To begin this article, I would like to advise owners that the days of below the radar sleepers are largely gone. If you play in a competitive league with knowledgeable competitors, you’re most likely not going to be able to snag a sleeper who has been hyped up by beat reporters and is being drafted in the late rounds. With the increasing wealth of information, sleepers have become much easier to track and research. I’m not here to tell you to play against less knowledgeable opponents (although that wouldn’t be a bad idea for your wallet…) I’m here to tell you about finding value.
Finding value is drafting a player who is undervalued by the other players in your league and drafting him at a cheap price, where he is likely to outplay his draft position. This can happen with any player. Even guys I don’t like. Take Ryan Mathews for example, I’m not taking him in the 5th round where his ADP currently sits but if he falls to the end of the 7th round and I don’t have a running back, I’d be really hard pressed not to take him. This article is more designed to find value than “sleepers.” Whatever you want to call them, here are a few guys that I target:
Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT, 9.11, WR42: After losing Mike Wallace’s production (64/838/8) to the Dolphins and Heath Miller’s (71/816/8) to a debilitating knee injury, there are plenty of targets to go around. With Antonio Brown being the only quality pass catcher on the roster, someone will need to step up. Enter Emmanuel Sanders, a very promising young receiver who the Patriots tried to pluck from the Steelers. Sanders, last season on 74 targets, had a higher catch percentage and yards per catch average than Mike Wallace, who saw 119 targets. Sanders has performed well in limited action and recently told the media “the Steelers are expecting him to catch 70 balls for 1,000 yards this season.” Currently the 42nd receiver coming off the board, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Sanders is a great player to take a gamble on.
Chris Givens WR STL, 10.09, WR46: Coming off a solid rookie season of 42 catches for 698 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Givens will be relied upon more this season. In the Rams’ first preseason game, he sliced through the Browns defense, catching three passes for 82 yards in limited action. Givens is clearly the Rams’ top weapon outside; his deep speed makes him a difficult cover for cornerbacks. Currently coming off the board as the 46th receiver, I’d love to grab Givens with the 9th pick of the 10th round.
Ryan Broyles WR DET, 11.04, WR49: Despite being just eight months removed from his 2nd ACL tear, Ryan Broyles is shaping up as a prime sleeper. Playing just ten games as a rookie last season, Broyles looked good. He started three games following Nate Burleson’s season ending injury. In his last start before the dreadful injury, Broyles cruised to a 6-catch, 126-yard performance. Broyles was drafted to be a Wes Welker to Calvin Johnson’s Randy Moss. Currently being drafted as the 49th receiver, he’ll be an absolute steal in PPR leagues if he can stay healthy.
Rueben Randle WR NYG, 11.09, WR52: According to the New York Daily News, sophomore Rueben Randle has been the star of Giants training camp. At 6 foot 2 inches, the 210 lb. Randle has never been short of height or talent. Hakeem Nicks’ injury history gives reason to believe Randle could blow up. While a Nicks’ injury would seal the deal, Randle could be talented enough to breakout even without one.
Michael Bush RB CHI, 12.01, RB49: I’m not a huge fan of Michael Bush at this stage in his career but at the point that he is being selected, I believe he’s undervalued. Unlike most of the players being selected around him (LaMichael James, Mikel Leshoure, etc.), Bush would likely see an every-down role if Forte were to miss time. Most of the players being drafted around this time wouldn’t see an every-down role even if their team’s lead back did miss time. This makes Bush appealing as the 49th running back off the board.
Joique Bell RB DET, 13.12, RB61: These last two sleepers are more pertinent to PPR (points per reception) scoring. If Reggie Bush were to get hurt, I don’t see Mikel Leshoure filling his void in the passing game. Bell, the more natural receiver, figures to serve as Bush’s PPR handcuff. Bush’s durability concerns coupled with the Lions heavy passing offense make Bell a nice late round flier.
Roy Helu RB WAS, 13.12, RB62: During his rookie season, Helu showed his soft hands in the passing game, catching 49 of 59 targets for 379 yards. While Alfred Morris stole the show last season, the Redskins still lacked a solid receiver out of the backfield. This season I expect Helu to be the Redskins passing down back – think Danny Woodhead-lite. As the 62nd running back off the board, Helu is a nice value.